Having children puts us looking at our own childhood. The psychologist Beatriz Cazurro says that good treatment does not depend only on finding information and deciding what model of father or mother we want to be; It also has to do with our own experience as children: “Much of the behavior that we need to correct as parents, such as yelling or lack of patience, is nothing more than a reflection of the disconnection that we experienced in the past as children from our parents. ”.
Yaiza Rubio: “At certain ages it is not highly recommended to have a thousand friends on the internet”
Under the idea that everything that is not good treatment is mistreatment, in The children we were, the parents we are (Planeta, 2022) exposes and makes us reflect on violence and abuse that, sometimes, we have inherited and integrated into our education, but that is still that: mistreatment. “The important thing is that we can get closer to being the parents our children need, despite our unmet needs from childhood, our limitations, our mistaken beliefs, our taboos and our traumas,” he says.
He says that for our children we are authority figures and that one of the decisions we must make as parents is how we want to exercise it. How is a healthy authority created or exercised, without falling into abuses?
Attending to the needs of our children, respecting the rhythms, with information about normal evolutionary development, listening… And setting limits that make sense, firmly but without violence.
What types of violence do families exercise without thinking that it is violence or abuse?
The word education has been and continues to be an umbrella under which many violent practices have been accommodated. Shouting, threats, labels, humiliation, punishment, ignoring… as well as other more invisible forms of abuse such as gaslighting, for example. We have grown up believing that the only way to set limits and exercise authority is like this and, without realizing it, many times we continue to perpetuate harmful actions that are not necessary.
I perfectly understand the difficulty of the school, with the ratios that exist and the lack of resources, from which it is requested that the diaper disappear as soon as possible. But the need to go to school without a diaper belongs to adults, not children
Is removing the diaper early out of school necessity violence?
Forcing someone to do something they are neither psychologically nor neurologically prepared to do is violence. We cannot forget that some children start school when they are still two years old. Punish them if they don’t achieve something impossible for them of course that is violence. Or leave them in class stained until someone can go get them. I perfectly understand the difficulty of the school with the ratios that exist and the lack of resources from which it is requested that the diaper disappear as soon as possible, but the need to go to school without a diaper belongs to adults, not children.
What do you think about the punishments? Are some suitable and others not?
Punishments are a way of feeling control by adults. They generate fear, defenselessness, alertness, resentment and disconnection. But generally, we only notice that sometimes the behavior that we want to eliminate disappears after a punishment. It is important that we begin to see beyond behaviors and understand the impact of our actions on the emotional world, on the security and confidence of our children.
When a child stops doing something for fear of punishment there is no learning, there is survival
Do they really learn by punishments and rewards?
They learn to know what we want them to learn. That is, they understand what we expect of them and what they need to do to get our approval and even our affection. But the actual learning about behaviors that we punish or reward do not. Learning involves understanding the reason why we do or don’t do things, experience the consequences of our actions, reflect, practice, fail… When a child stops doing something for fear of punishment, there is no learning, there is survival.
What alternative methods to the punishment and reward system do you recommend?
The presence, the listening, the narrative of the internal states from which they do or do not do what we ask them, the explanation of the consequences, the experimentation of their own consequences, the agreements, the anticipation of limits…
Can you tell us about violence due to negligence?
Neglect refers to those cases in which parents do not take care of the needs of our children. There are clear examples such as not feeding them, not taking care of their hygiene… but it also refers to when we do not take care of our work regarding their emotional needs. Fathers and mothers are responsible for the emotional regulation of our children, for example. For that you need time, attention, physical contact, calm. Ignoring emotions so that they stop expressing them is negligence, for example. The important thing about this type of neglect is that it is more invisible and that makes it more difficult to recognize, although the impact it has is the same as that of any other type of violence.
He affirms that blackmail is a form of manipulation, a way of generating unpleasant feelings in others so that they finally give in to what we want. How do we do blackmail and why do you disregard the method?
We blackmail in many ways. We try to pressure them to do something we want by saying that if they don’t do it there will be something they won’t receive: if you don’t behave well, the Kings won’t bring you the gift, for example. But not only that: sometimes with our angry or sad face we are emotionally blackmailing, trying to make them feel guilty and change their behavior so that we are happy. Manipulation is not recommended to generate security, trust and protection, which is what our children need from us.
He asserts that overprotection is a sweetened way of naming control. Can’t it be too much fear?
Sure, but in order to not feel our fear, we control our children. We make sure they don’t get on the swing that scares us, or they don’t emotionally distance themselves from us because we’re afraid of being alone. Control is not only exercised authoritatively. Sometimes, it is exercised after apparent good intentions and care. And it is important to begin to name that if we use our children to reassure ourselves, we are abusing our power and that we are not taking them into account as they need.
Children have the right to know the truth about things that directly impact them and they don’t like to be lied to, just like we do
What negative effects does overprotection have on our sons and daughters?
Lack of self-confidence, feeling of misunderstanding and loneliness, doubt about what they feel, guilt, fear of things that are not dangerous and insecurity.
And about the lies, what do you think? Are they mistreatment even if they are pious?
Most of the violent acts that we carry out, we believe that we are doing them for the good of the children. The same thing happens with lies. What kind of white lies? If we hide that his puppy has died and tell him that he has escaped, how will he be able to grieve? One thing is to adjust the information to what they can process and to their evolutionary moment and another thing is to underestimate them. Children have a right to know the truth about things that directly impact them and they don’t like being lied to, just like we do.
Tell us about parentification. What is? How is it done?
Parentification is a term that refers to those situations in which there is a reversal of roles and the children end up assuming some function that does not correspond to them as children. When they become the ones in charge of taking care of their parents or a brother, for example. The problem is that we have this type of behavior closely linked to the idea of a good child and sometimes we do not realize that it is not that our child is very empathic, or very responsible, but that he is carrying a very heavy load.
What psychological effects does physical or emotional abuse or violence have on children?
Violence impacts children on many levels. Low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, loneliness, fear, anger… But it can also be the cause behind some learning problems, difficulties in relating, even some physical symptoms. In the long term, having experienced violence in childhood is related to the appearance of psychiatric symptoms, drug use, risk of suicide and even diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, among others.