So I just finished a session with my amazing personal trainer Iker. Many people say it feels like their trainer is like a trainer and therapist in one. In our case he is the trainer and I play the role of therapist! We’ve known each other for a long time and this symbiotic relationship works a treat, although I’m the one who pays for the session so perhaps my negotiation skills need some work …..but seriously, his training is worth every dollar…..though I digress….
So his topic for discussion this week for which he wanted a psychological opinion “Adults seem to be in an energy crisis (severe lack of energy) and is this impacting their ability to discipline their children”. Yes I’d just done a warm up set on the ski machine (which really hurt by the way) and certainly didn’t see that hard-hitting topic coming my way for comment, let alone a behavioural analysis! Naturally I was interested to know where this was coming from so I asked for a little more background while he proceeded to hurt me with some TRX suspension training. He has come across a number of children and young adults (millennials) for that matter, who exhibit behaviours that he described as “entitled” and “lacking manners”. He was blown away by the lack of awareness especially with the millennials who he thought should be old enough to know better.
Well technically it might not be their fault. It’s highly possible that good behaviour and manners just wasn’t reinforced as they were growing up. We started talking about this idea of an energy crisis. Naturally being a personal trainer, he sees so many of his clients lacking in energy due to the demands of work and life. And needless to say I agree on this one – well, I did start a business to help this problem so it’s no surprise I agreed with him. He then hypothesised further (by this stage between chin up sets so I possibly wasn’t at my perky best) that perhaps parents lack the energy to actually discipline their children to create good behaviour.
In psychological terms, Iker has a point. It’s highly possible that parents are lacking in energy so much that they just don’t have the energy to do this. In fact, their lack of energy could possibly be reinforcing bad behaviour. Think of a child having a tantrum in a supermarket. It might just be easier to meet the child’s demands than to deal with actually having to administer the discipline. By giving in you are effectively creating a habit loop that reinforces to the child that when he or she has a tantrum in a public place, it’s a good result…..well that’s a pretty neat trick – no wonder they do it again. Or if they aren’t pulled up on their manners again, the bad behaviour gets inadvertently reinforced. Even though I don’t have kids, I get it……parenting humans looks really hard – ok that’s probably why I chose not to do it!
And then he put in his two cents about how he sees plenty of badly behaved younger children. And he hypothesised further (while smashing my triceps) about how the energy crisis means that parents are too tired to actively play or exercise with their children. Yep fair call – plenty of academic studies to show that children are more likely to have better behaviour when they exercise physically. Now, knowing that my trainer and his wife are both crazy fit, I would imagine it’s their super cute, active and well-behaved children that have trouble keeping up – certainly not the other way around. No shortage of physical activity for his children!
So I think that Iker definitely has a point. We certainly agree there is an energy crisis among adults, but it’s not just having an impact on the adults themselves, it’s highly likely that the children and adolescents of these energy-drained parents are likely to be feeling the impact too.
The good news is that having an energy crisis doesn’t need to be something that lasts for 20 years. Although some people think that is the status quo and that there is no escape, it certainly doesn’t have to be that way when you know some psychology and neuroscience to master your energy.
If you would like to know more about how to master your energy for whatever reason, please do get in touch. We’d love to help you.