Transactional Analysis

I sat through a parent and leadership seminar this past weekend with Dr. Ray Quiet. The premise of the seminar dealt with Transactional Analysis. TA is the idea that all of us have three ego states, the Parent, The Adult and the Inner Child

The parent ego: incorporated from our parents, coaches, etc.. This part of our ego holds our beliefs, it protects and nurtures, it directs and controls us. The language of our parent ego is imperative statements.

The adult ego: it is the rational part of us, stores information. The parent ego asks a lot of questions, it reports information, calculates. The language of the adult ego is primarily questions, and rational

The inner child: our intuitive side. our inner child is highly creative. It is the us from somewhere between ages 2.5/ or 3 years of age up to age 9. I guess you could say this is where our emtions come from, yelling, laughing, crying, etc. The language of our inner child is emotional.

With this TA stuff, the parent ego and the adult ego we call the grown up, and the child we call the little kid. It is the job of the grown up part of us to take care of the “little kid” inside of us. When we put our inner child in charge of grown up stuff we aren’t operating at full capacity. When the inner child is in charge of grown up stuff, this leads to burn out. As this relates specifically to parenting, we can’t parent successfully from our inner child (the high emotional side of us). But, our own inner child comes out of us when we are able to play with our children if we can keep the boundaries between our egos. This boundary-ing, fosters within us a sense of security and protection.

One of the real practical tools that came from this workshop was the learning about something called “positive discipline,” which originated with Jane Nelson. The whole goal of positive discipline is getting kids to a place where they can make healthy positive choices on their own.

Here’s an example of positive discipline in action:

1. state the rule ahead of time, for example, the rule is you must put your clothes in the hamper let’s say before bedtime.

2. state the conseuqeunce: if you don’t, then you will not have your clothes washed.

3. tell them how you fell about it: it will upset me that you clothes will be stinky for example.

 the key to finding a good consequence is finding your child’s leverage point and then of course sticking to it.

Then at the end of our time together for our parenting seminar, he asked “how does a child know if they are loved?”

His answer: if they feel they belong. You accomplish this feeling of belonging by getting them to contribute to the family, to help them feel that they are a part of the whole.

Some recommended reading:

Jane Nelson, Positive Discipline

Eric Berne, Games People Play


About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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