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Is Your Child Being Deliberately Difficult
Is your child deliberately being difficult or is it the way their brain processes information? The scene is set you have asked your child to do something a particular way and they start arguing with you. You begin to get frustrated not this again, why they can’t just do as they are told without arguing all the time. Sound familiar? The purpose of this article is to take a peek inside your child’s brain and see whether this behaviour is the result of how their brain filters information. These filters are referred to as meta programs and they influence the way we communicate and behave around others.
What are Meta Programs?
Meta programs can be described as the unconscious and habitual brain filters we have learned to place on our interactions with the outside environment. They determine what information gets through.
Meta programs have a strong impact on your behaviour and communication. In fact many of the conflicts you experience with others arise from these unconscious filters. Becoming aware of your own filters and those of your child can lead to greater levels of peace, harmony and success both inside and outside the home.
How Meta Programs Work?
Each meta program has opposing characteristics that are reflected on either end of a continuum. Imagine a piece of string. At one end of the string lies one meta program and at the other end lies the opposing meta program. Some people find that they are located at the ends of the continuum and others somewhere along the continuum.
The closer you are to the end of the continuum the stronger the preference and therefore the more likely you are to have conflicts with others. This is a result of the fact that you are bound to meet others who are located on the opposite end of the continuum to you.
Let’s now discuss one particular meta program that has high relevance when parenting referred to as similarity on one end of the continuum and difference on the other.
Similarity and Difference relates to how people sort incoming information. It can be sorted by seeing information as being either similar to what they already know or being different from what they already know. A good analogy is to see the brain’s memory bank as a filing cabinet. When people who sort by Similarity receive new information they sort through their filing cabinet looking for data that is similar to the new information. When people who sort by Difference receive new information they automatically scan their filing cabinet looking for data that differs from the new information.
Similarity people match new information with similar data that is stored in their long term memory. Similarity people are usually viewed as being very agreeable because they are always matching new information to existing similar information. Therefore they have a tendency to usually agree with what is being communicated to them.
Difference people look to see how the new information differs from what is stored in their long term memory. Difference people are often viewed as being argumentative or difficult to get on with. This is because when they receive new information they look at how it differs from what they already know. They then have to somehow reconcile the differences between this new information and the data that currently sits in their long term memory. This often results in them outwardly verbalising what is stored in their long term memory against the information that is currently being presented. Therefore they can appear as if they are disagreeing with the new information. However the reality is they are just trying to make sense of two conflicting pieces of data. If they can’t their ability to learn new things and interact successfully in the world will be severely comprised.
If you have a child who sorts by Difference then you may perceive them as argumentative, disobedient, unruly or difficult to manage. This will be especially pronounced if you have another child who sorts predominately by Similarity.
Unfortunately children who sort by Difference usually grow up conflicted by the fact that they need to argue things out (usually they don’t know why) and the need to be liked and get on with others. They usually grow up with self-esteem and confidence issues as a result of this.
If you suspect that your child sorts by Difference it is a good idea to allow them the opportunity to argue the point so that they can process opposing thoughts. They are not arguing with you but with the new information. This is not to say they are correct but right now their brain is telling them that something else is true. Most of this is happening at an unconscious level.
Your role as a parent is to help them unite their existing thoughts with the differing information being presented. At first you will need to be patient with this because your child will need time to reconcile the differences. One way to expedite the process is when they start arguing with you is to ask them ‘why don’t you like that idea?’ With a follow-up question of and ‘how does this help (support) you to grow up to be the amazing person that you truly are?’ Keep in mind the questions you ask don’t matter all that really matters is you are giving your child an opportunity to expand their thinking by reconciling the differences between new and existing information. By being patience and experimenting with this technique you will be allowing your child to learn, grow and flourish as an individual.Parenting Book - What Every Parent Needs To Know
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