Yesterday, my now-grown child had to make a big decision about whether to move to Minneapolis or not. They (preferred pronoun) would be living with three other people that they had never lived with in a city they had never even been to. I asked them what their intuition was saying.
They started speaking from the side that wanted to go, then spoke from the side that was afraid to go. While speaking from each side, they asked themselves what their body was experiencing. They finally said, “my body is more excited than it is afraid. I’m going to do it. I’m going to move to Minneapolis.”
I have all sorts of reservations about this move – and they were all overshadowed by the joy of watching my child sort themselves out and access their intuition. I don’t care how it actually turns out, what I care about is that they trusted themselves.
The question I have about teaching our children to live by their intuition is this: Is there a difference between living by your intuition and being “run” by your emotions? How do we teach our children how to honor their intuition and be able to complete what they set out to do?
She says that when it comes to children’s intuition, “their feelings are their barometer, so they’re crying really loud or they’re yelling or they’re punching or they’re taking action or they’re curled up and they’re quiet and they don’t want to leave the house and they don’t want to do certain things…
“Their bodies are telling you exactly what’s happening in the world.They’re going to show you their version of overwhelmed and it’s going to be repetitive.That’s the beauty of kids is that they’re very repetitive in their emotional wherewithal.
Some kids are the ones that are out there tearing apart the world while the other kids are really quiet and in a corner and not wanting to leave that space. So they’re very clear about the way that their barometer shows up.
So to foster that intuition in each of them, is to trust that their barometer, their emotional wherewithal, is actually giving you information about not just what’s happening in their world, but, as well, how they’re interpreting the world.”
What Willow is talking about here is something I imagine that parents committed to honoring their child’s soul path would want to foster in their kids. Where I get stuck is that one of the best lessons I learned in life was how to be committed to something without getting stopped by how I “feel” about it. How do I reconcile this with “following my intuition,” which is also important to me, and even more challenging, how do I teach this distinction to my child?
By the time I was twenty, I had a hard time committing to anything. I would say I wanted to do something on Monday and by Tuesday morning, I just didn’t “feel” like it.
Was this my “intuition” or was it something else?
As we begin to honor our children’s intuition, I believe it’s also important to help them be clear about intuitive feelings and other feelings. How do we do this?
Help your child distinguish if this is intuition or something else.
Your child wakes up and says, “I don’t feel like going to school today. That’s what my intuition is telling me.”
What do you do with that?
If you tell them they have to go anyway, you dishonor their intuition and feelings. If you let them stay home, the school might have a consequence, you might need to come up with childcare, and they will be missing out on learning. You’re stuck!
Ask your child to look a little deeper. First identify the actual feeling:
“I get that you don’t feel like going to school and that is what your intuition is telling you. What is the actual “feeling” you are talking about? Not “feeling” like going to school is not a feeling. Feelings are one word, like, sad or mad or scared. So how do you feel about going to school?”
“I feel sad.”
Here you may actually distinguish what is really going on. Maybe they are scared because their teacher yelled at them yesterday or because they are falling behind in math and they are embarrassed. In this case, it may not be intuition talking, but an emotion that needs to be addressed.
Try interviewing the “parts” of what is going on with your child.
Break the conversation into parts. There is a “part” of the child that is saying they don’t want to go to school. Okay. What is the other “part” saying? The part that wants to go to school? Have the child speak from that part as well. You can then say:
“When you are speaking from the part that doesn’t want to go to school, where do you feel it in your body? What do you experience? And when you are speaking from the part that wants to go to school, where do you feel it in your body?”
See what they say. It may be that the part that wants to stay home experiences sadness and the part that wants to go to school experiences nervousness or worry. This may also present an opportunity to find out if there is something they are afraid of versus their intuition.
If it is clear to you that your child is trying to live by their intuition versus being afraid, trust that AND let them experience the consequences.
There will be times when against your better judgment, it will be invaluable to trust your child’s intuition. If not, it is likely they will continue to struggle to trust themselves. In the example above, if your child really feels strongly that their intuition is that school is not for them, lay out the options in a very real way. Maybe they need to interview different schools. If they do, any work they miss as a result will need to be made up and if you have to take time off work, you may have to work in the evening and not be able to have movie night or make that favorite dinner.
Maybe they need to be home-schooled. If this is the case, let them try this for a while and see if it works for them. However, there may be consequences here. In order to make homeschooling happen, you may have to hire someone or arrange other things in your life. If that has to happen, there may be costs. It may mean going on a less expensive family vacation, not going out to eat as often, or a delay in getting the newest online game.
Costs are not punishments.
The message we want to deliver to our children is that honoring their intuition is important, and if we need to make adjustments, we are willing to do whatever we can within our boundaries. The costs are not intended to be punishment with the underlying message being that they will have to “suffer the consequences of their actions.” This is about teaching your child to trust themselves and to trust that if it doesn’t work out, they can course correct.
Your child may follow their intuition and decide later that it wasn’t the right move and that the costs aren’t worth it. My own child’s journey in trusting their intuition has had many costs from regretting things they chose not to participate in to ending up in classes that their intuition told them would be great and turned out awful.
The important thing is that they figured this out themselves. I cannot stress the importance of having the child realize this on their own. It is far more powerful and will have a longer lasting impact.
As hard as it was for me to allow my own child to follow their intuition when they were young, and I didn’t always do this with perfect consistency or grace, I feel it has paid off immensely. Now, I feel joy when I witness the times when my child uses their intuition to make choices and trusts that if it doesn’t work out they have the ability to change direction.