Moving Away From Your Child State

Moving Away From Your Child State


Transactional analysis is a technical way of saying “Your relationship with others”.

The theory goes, based on the book “I’m OK – You’re OK” by Thomas A. Harris, is that you and the person your conversing with, will be in one of three states. “Parent”, “Adult” or “Child”.

It might be that you are in a different state around different people. When you are talking with your mates, you might be in “Adult” state, talking to their “Adult” state. When you are talking with your boss, you might be in “Child” state, talking to their “Parent” state.

The ultimate strategy to have a more content and happier life, is to be “Adult” to “Adult”. The mature, confident (but not arrogant), analytical, being at peace way of communicating.

This blog post topic has come about from one of my clients who has a “Child to Parent” transaction within his work environment; but really, this is a state lived in by most people, throughout their lives.

Child to parent life transactional analysis

So how do you know if you are in a “Child to Parent” state?

  • You feel the need for recognition and positive confirmations.
    • This might sound justified and fair right? You do something and it’s acknowledged. But think about why you are doing it in the first place.
    • Are you doing it because you want to? Or for the recognition or admiration from your boss, parents or peers?
  • You are living a life of avoidance.
    • You seem to find ways of withdrawing around “Adult to Adult” people or find it too painful to converse.
    • You might be looking for activities or creating excuses to avoid such transactions.
  • You are seeking positive affirmations from mentioning your elaborate wish lists.
    • Do you find yourself starting with  “If I” and “When I” when talking about your future plans, but not following through?
    • Are you are putting yourself in a position of being someone else, someone who you think would be impressive to others, in order to feel that recognition?
  • You are constantly putting yourself out
    • Are you normally the one to apologise, just to make things better?
    • Giving up your own personal time to help others?
    • Do you just sustain being put down, because that’s the way it’s always been…?
  • You are self-perpetuating a victim role.
    • I act negatively to someone, who then treats me in a negative way. Because they treat me in a negative way, I then act negatively back. This is a self-destructive pattern, which unless recognised, could lead to a whole life of pain.

Never ending “Child to Parent” state.

This is called a complementary transaction. You as a “Child” seek approval from a “Parent”. They in turn are happy to encourage you, as they feel a level of power and satisfaction. You are both fulfilling your respective roles and this can be endlessly sustained until one of you breaks the patterns.

Often we find “accomplished” people are “Child to Parent”. These are individuals who are in need of pleasing others. So they tend to take on the “hard worker” role. They find that their boss, partner or colleagues are the “Parent” and strive to please them. They put the hours in, they volunteer to go above and beyond.

Example of a current “Child to Parent” state

Let’s take my client’s situation of speaking with his manager who is in a “Parent” state.

Manager (Parent Request) Manager: “I need this report creating by end of play today. It’s really important, so make sure you do a good job on it.”
You (Child Thoughts) Oh God, I’ve got so much work on, but I need to keep him happy as he’s my boss. It’s going to be more overtime to get both projects done, so I’ve just got to suck it up and do it. I was going to see my partner tonight, but this work is really important.
You (Child Feelings) Start to feel a bit helpless, disempowered and a little bitter that he doesn’t realise how much pressure you are under right now.
You (Child Actions) You enthusiastically accept and say you’ll have the report to him asap. You tell your partner, it’ll be a late one tonight.
You (Child Results) You are at the point that you stretch yourself on both projects and subsequently both are not your best work. You email the report that evening and wait for a reply or message of thanks, which neither come. You spend the weekend stressing that the report wasn’t good enough and contemplate others being promoted around you. Another evening is spent at work, instead of with your partner.
Manager (Parent Outcomes) He received the report and is happy with it, but too busy to say ‘thanks’, because he is caught up in his own work.
You (Outcomes) You aim to work harder on the next report to gain that ‘thanks’ whilst your boss gets his work done whilst you work harder each time. Your partner is disappointed that another night is spent at work instead of being together. There is more tension within your personal relationship every time the topic of work comes up.

Example of moving to “Adult” state

Child to parent life transactional analysis
Manager (Parent Request) Manager: “I need this report creating by end of play today. It’s really important, so make sure you do a good job on it.”
You (Adult Thoughts) Ok, well that’s great my boss trusts me to get this work done. Though I’ve got that other project on at the moment, so maybe he has forgotten about that. If I try and tackle both, I know I’ll be rushing it so might not be ideal. Plus I was going to spend some quality time with my partner tonight.
You (Adult Feelings) Feelings of warmth that you have recognised there will be more than one option here. My boss respects me and I have a partner who is wanting to spend quality time. Plus a confidence in balancing the right things in my work and personal life.
You (Adult Actions) You come back to your boss and say “I’d love to support you with that report. I’ve got that other project due tomorrow and I’ve probably got a full day left on it, which one is more of a priority for you?”
Manager (Adult Results) Ah yes I’d forgotten about that – Well actually, that other project is just as important, so I suppose I could give it to Sarah, I think she’s bit more available at the mo.
Both (Outcomes) One of you breaks the cycle from “Child to Parent” and then you are both communicating from “Adult to Adult”. This shows that you are willing to do the work, but letting them choose the priorities. You spend the time on the other piece of work and produce a better quality level. You still see your partner. A by-product of this is also planting a seed in your boss’ head that means you will not drop everything without it meaning something else has to give.

3 Ways To Change The “Child To Parent” Script?

There are three things that could help to drive change.

1 – Pain

  • You are at the point that you’ve been feeling more and more demotivated.
  • You are not being appreciated, for far too long and its massively impacting your health/mind.
  • You are banging your head against a brick wall and it needs to stop.

2 – Boredom

  • The motivation for change has come from being in a state of “nothingness”.
  • You feel empty, unfulfilled, grey and blahhhh (technical terminology).
  • You can’t see a future by continuing to do what you are doing.

3 – Realisation

  • You are aware, you can change.
  • Life has so far been dictated to you and you now realise that you have the ability to start dictating your own life.
  • By reading books and articles such as this, you start understanding and seeing the benefits.

Understanding is key in all of this. If this all sounds too familiar and are ready to start making the transition from “Child” to “Adult”, then let me know how it’s gone for you – or if you need support in your own personal circumstances, just get in touch.

Hi, I’m Scott and I’m here to support you in creating positive improvements with your Career, Love Life, Health, Fun & Hobbies, Social Life, Finances, Home Life and Personal Growth.

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