The importance of acceptance for children

Maybe his nose reminds you of a grumpy old uncle, she's three and not speaking fluently, he's four and not ready for entrance exams yet. Your life isn't the same, last months mag lies there unread, gosh, how can you focus on your career with not enough sleep? No one warned you (it wasn't even planned). Your relationship has changed so much, sometimes you wonder - is this the life you wanted?


So you magnanimously act the caring mum - how will anyone know the thoughts inside you? How will a baby be able to know what is or isn't there? How much of our communication is non-verbal? Our body language says what you cannot.

That dismissive glance, the shake of the head, tight fist, scowl - children understand the tone of voice more than spoken words.

The effects of rejection, however slight, add up. We all know people who leave home and don't return, clever children, lost out there, children whose universe is inside their laptop.

No parent is perfect; how do we remember to cuddle and compliment when they are
wet and whinging, cross and crying?

Parents often think telling their child what they don't like will help them in the future.
The message of criticising, moralising and commanding is the message of unacceptance.
It's a myth that all parents have a natural love for their children.

So if you're beating yourself up with guilt how do you start to improve the bond? 

  • Start by accepting yourself, not liking yourself leads to the projection of those beliefs.
  • Respecting and accepting yourself teaches others how to treat you.
  • Accept how you're child is, nothing more and nothing less.
  • When your child feels accepted as they are, they feel free to change and be more of him/herself.

If you're struggling to accept...comparisons, their demands, expectations...simply tell them how you feel; use an it-statement: "I'm too tired, I can't play right now" rather than 
"You're a pest, I don't care, come here now and stop wriggling".

If genuine love does not always emanate forth then build up to it, try smiling, humour, warm expressions; be real. Show respect and give attention instead of playing the role.

Remember, wanting children to be the same as you/another equals non-acceptance.

So, recognise reality and don't attempt to change; appreciate and praise the good.
Accept it is as it is, no more and no less, stop caring what the world or your neighbours think, accepting your child as he/she is, allows the good to come out.

Remember, criticism is seen as a threat even if it's meant to be helpful. If we criticise we motivate the emotions of fear, anxiety, self-contempt. These emotions don't help us feel better/build confidence, they help us feel bad.

So when they're next crying and complaining stop the automatic parent, remember cuddles and compliments are needed.

Many of us haven't yet resolved our own traumas, our internal reflections do affect our external reactions. Building self-love will improve loving child-rearing.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Muswell Hill N10 & Central London SE1
Written by Mary Mcilroy, BACP Accredited (Anxiety specialist). Bupa listed 30060387
Muswell Hill N10 & Central London SE1

I am a registered counsellor with the BACP covering: London Bridge/The City of London and Muswell Hill/London N10. Although I help people mainly with issues of anxiety and depression, I cover many other areas. Throughout your sessions with me, you will be listened to with empathy while you feel and see change happen as anxiety melts away.

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