Adult Integration Work Friendship Waking to Grow Up - Blog Posts

Toxic Friendships

Witnessing your child in pain

Have you seen your child taking on a role in a friendship that seems toxic to you? A friendship where they seem to wield all or none of the power? Perhaps a connection where they seem to accept pain as requisite and part of repeatedly being hurt.

The first step is to ask your child how they feel about the friendship with open questions that are not leading them to an answer;

“Would you rate your friendship with …. as the best friendship, a good friendship or a friendship that is okay?”

If they seem oblivious to the situation, you can ask yourself, how do I model relationships as the parent? Do they see me normalising staying in a painful relationship?

They may have witnessed this with a friendship or family relationship where you seem hurt, exhausted, angry or sad or perhaps the other people look that way after being with you? If that is the case, your child may have learnt that situation is normal. Think about how you can shift your spoken and body language to change your interactions and shift your child’s experience.

If your child tells you that the relationship is just okay; you have an opportunity to ask them more questions and record or document their answers:

  • What makes a good friend?
  • How do they show they are a good friend?
  • What makes a bad friend?

Share some stories about being a bad friend so they feel safe to share and DON’T judge them if they say something horrid.

HINT – Try to sit next to them so they can’t see your face during this session if you blanch. Also, remember to maintain your body language; with every stiffening of the shoulders, your child reads a change!

All of these strategies are about developing a regular check-in with you about the status of different friends. Using a concrete tool like Friendship Circles lets your child learn that it is normal for people to move around in their extent of closeness and trust. It also enables them to form clear guidelines for deciding how to move out of a friendship. These are excellent skills to help them stay safe in romantic relationships when they get older!

If your child is still playing with figurine toys or dolls, play with them and take on some characters to explore these roles from movies. Talk about what it felt like to be the character. Let them share honestly, and you do too! They want the authentic you.

Your goal is to build an ongoing conversation about friends. You are not telling them what to think but instead supporting them on a journey, you are taking together.

In support of developing this safe sharing space, consider reading some stories about friends together to discuss. Also, you can watch some movies together and discuss the types of friendship:

  • Up (2009)
  • Lilo and Stitch (2002)
  • Big Hero 6 (2014)
  • Ponyo (2008)

Please add any other suggestions for movies or other media to help with discussing friendship in the comments below.

Adult Integration Work Values Waking to Grow Up - Blog Posts


Value systems, like all concepts, are defined by how they used by us. Our actions demonstrate our values. We are our values.

What are your Values? Write your top 5 down.

As individuals, values discussions tend to be relegated to the same place as strategic plans are in the workplace – left behind as abstractions that don’t really mean anything to us personally. Perhaps this is because history aligns values with how an individual is being socialised, what they “should” think. We often first grapple with values in our childhood homes as we become adults. Rarely thinking again about what our early socialisation to our first family “values” has left us with as guiding principles.

In contrast to this traditional viewpoint, the real power of values is in how they sit within the individual. How they are lived. Research shows that alignment between the individual’s own values and their places of work and home is an important key to happiness. We also know that as children, we learnt our values by watching our parent’s actions, not by their words. This means we may be unaware of how we are living out our childhood values or how our actions do not align with our identified values. If we heard ” we value kindness” but our parents only demonstrated aggression, that misalignment can make finding and defining our own values difficult.

What do you think is valued in your home?

How do you feel about the values you have identified from home or wider community? Do they feel comfortable?

Are they spoken of as values in your contexts or have you identified them as being valued through actions?

How do we Value?

Often, if we sit with the notion of “value” we can attribute some key indicators to pull out what have enacted lived values versus the aspirational and abstract values. Organisations, like families, can struggle with the alignment of values and actions. We know we value something when we put our resources toward it. Resources like time, money, focus, conversation and priorities. As an employee, you may have read a values charter that claims a value of “honesty” however your colleagues and supervisors demonstrate value for “money” more than “honesty” in their actions.

In your own life;
What do you spend the most amount of time doing?
What are the primary conversation topics?
What about arguments? What do you argue the most about?
Answering these questions can tell you a lot about what you really value. Did your answers reflect what you perceived as your values?

Lived Values

Values are powerful as the guide for how we want to be in our world, they tend to be abstract or subjective words like:

  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Kindness

Whilst important concepts they can only really be shared through negotiated meaning, meanings that can be enacted. They must be lived in our behaviours and actions, not just used as aspirations if we want to show they are truly valued. This is the time to map out your values and find out how to better live them.

Map your Values now!

Awakened Education provides a range of tailored Values workshops for individuals, families or organisations

Adult Integration Work Integration Waking to Grow Up

Difference is Strength

Learning and growing contexts for Atypical Learners and Thinkers

As a an adult working with children, it can be tempting to go into interactions with our young people thinking with assumptions of similarity. Parents assume themselves within their children and teachers will assume a “oneness” of the group, an average. Both of these positions are about starting from a place of adult comfort, which immediately closes us off, as educators to difference.

Discomfort can be an excellent starting place when working with young people, a search for uncertainty. This doesn’t mean removing our connection as similiar or together, it means starting from a place of curiosity and questioning.


As a parent, holding our newborn or a child who we have welcomed into our heart, we look for ourselves, to feel ” They are like me!” Teachers do the same thing. When they meet a new student they search for the connection point as a similarity. We all know that the moment of sameness can make the connection swift and seemingly rich. It is a hard choice to not follow that comfortable path.

The discomfort comes from a search for our tribe, for ease, for equilibrium as our default; drawn from a belief of our Self as compared to the “typical” we were proffered in our childhood. From that point, our benchmark is what we know, what we think, what we feel and when the child is not matching those expectations we identify them as “atypical”, different.


The fear of difference builds on our concrete experiences of not being part of the group, our behaviour making us stand out; the desperate loneliness of that moment. That core muddy Self-identity is a powerful challenge when working with atypical learners, our shadowed fear of expulsion and abandonment sees us project the same terror onto the little person in front of us.

  • They are just lazy
  • They are not trying hard enough
  • They just don’t care
  • Why can’t they just do what they are told
  • Why can’t they…

Because they are themselves, not us. Not you. You are identifying their challenging behaviours as alien to you, through the lens of negative judgement.

Differentiation and integration practice

To best support, the children in your orbit who exhibit sensory, emotional, cognitive, or physical challenges, explore the notion of integration of the shadowed Self or expelled Other, who was different. These early binary judgments are important to identify and accept as part of ourselves. The steps to achieve this will allow you to explore your projections from both frames as we will be using the Binary Disruption process. Before you start you will need:

  • Your Awakening Journal
  • A pen/pencil
  • A safe space in which to write
  • 20-30 minutes uninterrupted


Stand and breathe deeply, in for 5 seconds and then out for 5 seconds – repeat five times.

If possible and safe, close your eyes and wrap your arms around yourself as you take these five breaths.

Keep two feet on the ground.

Hold yourself in this pose for 10 more breaths as you remember the most recent interchange with a challenging child, who demonstrated difference. Focus on the feelings their behaviour aroused in you.


Make yourself comfortable with some blank paper and a pen. You are going to finish the statements below, you MUST not edit your answers to be “nice” let yourself sit in your judgement state and record what arises first. Remember, you were a little child when you built these ways of seeing the world. This is your chance to unearth them.

1a Smart kids…

2a Good friends always…

3aTeachers and parents like kids who …

Now write the opposite

1bDumb kids …

2b Bad friends …

3b Teachers and parents don’t like kids who …

Review and Integrate

Now we will put these statements together and speak them aloud. Look at the groupings below and write the statements out again putting them together as below.

I am a smart kid and I …( answer 1a ) and ( answer 1b )

Notice anything that arises as you read that aloud.

I am a good friend and I ( answer 2a ) and ( answer 2b)

Notice anything that arises as you read that aloud.

Teachers and parents liked me and I am ( answer 3a ) and ( answer 3b )

Notice anything that arises as you read that aloud.

In your Awakening Journal, note down anything that arose for you, discomfort in your body, a change in posture, opposing statements and internal argument.

This practice can be used for the statements that emerge when you are working with your atypical little person. If possible, when a judgment about them arises, go and write it down so you can use the Binary Disruption process to explore both sides of the story in your mind. This does not mean that you are trying to ignore behaviours that are not acceptable to you, it allows you to hold both possible behaviours and consciously choose one, instead of defaulting automatically.

For the sake of the child you are caring for, so that you can understand the challenges they face. Stay in awareness of the integrated whole that is both possibilities.