Raising Children As A Parent With GNM Awareness

By Richard Laker, Certified GNM Clinician

As adults applying GNM we can appreciate the vast number of experiences we have as we go through life, not forgetting we may experience unanticipated shocking events of the same nature multiple times over the years. Yet when dealing with children, it’s more akin to working with a blank canvas in many ways.

Having a 2 year old daughter at the time I first became a student of GNM, I was in the fortunate position to be able to observe first hand and learn directly in the moment as my daughter grew and developed. After my first year of study, we brought our son into the world so I was now in the position to observe the development of my child from birth with the knowledge and understanding of GNM.

GNM became the philosophical way of living for my children which I must say has been a huge blessing, not only to be able to expand my knowledge and experience, but to also help them navigate through what can be some challenging times for a child, leading to a path of least suffering. The result being that both of my children, now 11 and 16 years old, have only ever been to see a doctor once, are very healthy overall, and should they become unwell they both recover extremely quickly in comparison to my observations amongst their peers.

During the first year of a child’s life, we are going to be dealing with the most basic and archaic responses to their environment, the simple matters of life such as dealing with temperature changes, loud noises and simple morsel conflicts like hunger, overfeeding, reflux and possibly separation due to overbearing smells.

As a child develops cognitive ability and social awareness, then the nature of the potential conflicts they are exposed to expand to separation, territory and boundary type conflicts. As a child develops communication skills and becomes fully aware of their family members, we start to recognise their attachment to loved ones, pets and even toys. Sharing becomes a thing for them so we will also start to observe territorial and boundary responses when integrating with other children of a similar age where we will observe their awareness of boundaries. The most common ailments we will see around this period are colds, skin conditions and temper tantrums. 

When we are faced with dealing with skin conditions, we need to look at how they may perceive conflicts of separation from the mother and father as the most important, then grandparents, siblings, friends, pets and maybe even favourite toys.

The most common affected areas of a child’s body we will observe are skin conditions such as eczema which occur behind the knees and the inside of the elbows which represents the embrace contact surface and commonly when carried on the hip by a loved one. When these symptoms become chronic, we need to offer assistance to the child to help them work out the constant separation reminders that we refer to as tracks.

We must pay attention to when the child is most likely to be in a situation where the elevation of stress and anxiety due to separation arises and more often provide a practical solution ourselves. For example, when we must leave our children in the care of others we can change how that interaction takes place. Rather than leaving the child abruptly, we could interact with them for a short period of time in the new environment and help them to engage until they feel safe and comfortable to continue interacting with others. The goal is to eliminate these moments of stress in regards to separation and help the child break the cycle of tracks.

One of the most interesting childhood skin conditions I find is chicken pox. In GNM, we do not follow the hypothesis that chicken pox is a contagious disease, but rather a healing phase of a deep and meaningful separation conflict. I have had many conversations with people who challenge the idea that chicken pox is not contagious and each time the question is asked as to why groups of children will develop chicken pox around the same period of time, and granted observing this phenomenon does make a strong argument for the contagion theory.

I have been in the fortunate position to be able to observe these so-called chicken pox outbreaks on numerous occasions and not only that, I have predicted the situation when these outbreaks are most likely to occur.

In the UK there is an educational entry point for children aged 4 to join a reception class and full time education from the September, January and April of the year they are aged 4. This often sudden change of a child’s life being separated for numerous hours of the day 5 days a week can be a big shock to their evolving systems. After approximately 5 to 7 weeks after their start date there is a half term holiday break of at least a week and this is precisely the period I was able to observe a large number of children in my children’s classes breaking out with chicken pox which is then treated as a contagious outbreak amongst the class.

What I believe we are observing is the understanding and the relief of the children to the fact that they will be having or having experienced at least a week’s break from the initial deep separation conflict involving going to school. They relax and allow their bodies to enter the healing phase during this relief period allowing the separation stress and anxiety levels to significantly diminish truly for the first time in a number of weeks. Not all children will develop chicken pox and I suspect this is purely down to the individual child’s previous experiences and their own perceptions.

 As children become comfortable at school and form friendships, especially over the next 6 years before moving to secondary school we will start to witness various programming conflicts coming to light, from anger and rage to bed wetting where we are looking at boundary, territorial and identity conflicts playing out.

These years before puberty will have much to do with the shaping of a child’s personality and their perception of themselves and the world around them. As parents, we can only do our best to guide our children. Having a sound GNM foundation as a parent of a young child can really make a difference to help them navigate, understand and resolve the various conflicts that life throws at them. When we experience a child with rage we need to pay attention to how they see themselves fitting into the world, how they fit into their families and how they fit in with their friends.

Having experienced rage from my son, I found the solution for him personally is to assist him to develop his own identity. He is highly self-motivated and always pays attention so encouraging and supporting him with hobbies and extracurricular activities has helped him build a sense of individuality where he feels less desire to compete and try to fit in, but rather share his enthusiasm amongst his peers with his own unique experiences thus laying claim to his own identity.

 When my daughter went through a period in her life where she expressed rage and developed an eating disorder, we were eventually able to understand that her conflicts came from her closest friendship group where she felt she was treated as an outcast by some of her friends.

A lot of what was perceived by her as bullying would happen during the lunch time period which was the source of her eating disorder. Once we were able to help her identify the situation and help her work out a solution and come to terms with what she had experienced, her symptoms of anger, rage and issues around eating completely stopped and she shifted back to a healthy and happy child once again.

Children aren’t born with an instruction manual and as parents we are ourselves learning every day, but with the knowledge and ability to put this information into practice we can support our children and learn with them resulting in a pleasant and happy childhood to look back on.