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Breaking the Cycle of Fear Based Conditioning

by Beverley Paine, Dec 29, 2018

My first New Year resolution is to remove fear from my choices. It's not the kind of fear that we all feel in moments of stress, when stuff happens that we'd ra ther it didn't, etc. The fear I'm talking about is the background stuff that we've been conditioned to experience from birth. As I observe my behaviour around my children and grandchildren I am aware that so many of my actions and habits arise from these conditioned fear, many of them resultant from the incessant pressure to conform to arbitrary societal 'norms'.

As a very young person I watched my sister, at odds with many of these 'norms', 'disciplined' frequently and did my utmost to avoid the same fate, embedding fear at the core of many of my reactions, responses and habits.

Over time I began to distrust my abilities and understanding - I can actually remember moments from my childhood where this happened. Desperate to fit in and be accepted, I tried to become the person others wanted me to be, and when that wasn't possible I retreated into my imagination and the wonderful world of other people's imagination via books. As an adult it has been easier to avoid social situations.

One of the fears carried over from my childhood that haunts me the most is fear of getting something wrong, not doing it right, of making mistakes, stuffing up, and causing waste or damage as a result. That's a big one. I see adults chastising children for the little mishaps they have, especially young children who are their most experimental, happily and busily exploring the world, deeply engaged in usually urgent or compelling learning to fully understand the implications of the outcomes of their actions. I find myself doing that too - it's a hard habit to break - this fear that things will break or make a mess or cause waste. And I continually challenge and question it because my inner child rebels...

I'm glad that inner child found her voice when my first child was born - rocking my world with her grief and confusion and declaring very loudly to me "no more!" I am glad that I listened and learned from the lessons my children brought to my life, heeded my at first hesitant desire to go against social norms and be a different kind of parent. I'm glad I sought out advice from authors such as Penelope Leach, John Holt, Alfie Kohn, Jean Leidloff, Wendy Priesnitz, and in more recent years, Freya Dawson and others.

I am heading into my seventh decade and I am still working on breaking those fear based habits. So many of us are unaware that a lot of the small daily choices we make each day are determined by habits that were cemented in place by fear during our childhood.

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

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