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Yes, Raising Children is like Herding Velociraptors

Sometimes raising children helps you understand why some animals eat their young...

Anyone who has ever spent significant time with a toddler will tell you they learned many things about themselves; including the definition of patience, kindness and why other animals sometimes eat their young, (don’t worry, this will be normal until they are out of the house).

Although the fences are electrified, the raptors never attacked the same place twice. They remember…

For anyone old enough to remember the first Jurassic Park, there is a famous scene where they’re inspecting the raptor enclosure. The character, Robert Muldoon, explains to Dr Grant and Dr Sattler how the velociraptors would test the fence for weaknesses. He explained that although the fences were electrified, the raptors never attacked the same place twice. They remember…

There are many fine theories on parenting...

From Triple P parenting to Circle of Security, Attachment-Based Parenting and Therapeutic Parenting. You will find that many of them have very common themes throughout each program while perhaps highlighting different specific aspects. One of the common themes found is around boundaries.

“Do not stick your hand in the cookie jar young lady!”

Very specifically I remember an incident in my childhood where my mother told me, “Do not stick your hand in the cookie jar young lady!” So, making defiantly direct eye contact, I flipped the jar upside down to spill the cookies out on the counter, thereby being able to snatch a cookie without sticking my hand in the jar and therefore following her instructions. This must’ve been a traumatic experience for both my mother and I, as I do not remember what happened next but I’m positive it involved a 15- or 20-minute timeout in my bedroom and my mom doesn’t recall this incident happening at all.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many thousands of classic examples of trying to parent the typical velociraptor. Children are fierce, they are intelligent, they are constantly checking the electrified fences, and they are constantly probing us for weaknesses. This does not mean that we should treat them with apprehension, caution and hostility, but rather, we should not view these behaviours as apparently negative, going up against our “authority”; and many of these behaviours we do not need to overreact to.

In fact, another common theme that many parenting programs have in common is building relationships with your child. Spending “quality time” together with them, making direct eye contact with them, getting rid of technology, and building a stable relationship where feelings and “an authentic self” can be developed between both parent and child. It is this relationship that allows correction, boundary setting, and authenticity to develop where both parent and child can start to understand what healthy boundaries look like and to help process feelings.

It is important that we have those boundaries so that children learn to self-regulate

because we will not always be there to regulate for them. That does not mean we ignore them and hang them out to dry, but teaching them those skills as our ancestors would’ve taught their children how to hunt, track game, go fishing, weave baskets, sew clothing, and of course emotional and behavioural regulation. It is amazing how often behavioural regulation and emotional regulation go hand-in-hand. Our ancestors would’ve been very lucky as their children would’ve naturally learned emotional regulation through watching and learning the adults take on the life skills required to survive.

I was very lucky to grow up on the farm because by the time I was 3 or 4 years old I was sitting in the tractor next to my parents, my uncles and aunties, or my Guido and Baba. I would participate in learning the tools of the trade, and soon they would let me operate machinery under their close and watchful supervision. As I demonstrated competencies, they gave me positive reinforcement; I learned the definition of pride and accomplishment

and was given bigger challenges. First, I would watch and learn, then I would operate under supervision, and then I was left to operate on my own. I still remember the feelings of pride and accomplishment being a 12-year-old child and left completely by myself to operate machinery completely on my own. And I still remember how delicious that cookie was too.

Come heal, grow and create together


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