Here we have what Stephen Karpman calls the 'Persecutor' and 'Victim' roles. The 'victim' is a role we choose to adopt when we feel helpless and hopeless, we have no power at this time and in this situation. The person or situation we hold responsible for feeling like this, is the persecutor. In the case of the Cinderella story, it would be the ugly stepsisters and the stepmother. The finger pointing and the shouting indicate the 'persecutor' role. The persecutor role can also be occupied by a situation or condition such as 'covid', 'having ADHD', 'exams', 'lack of money' and so on.
Notice in the image below how the 'rescuer' is being comforting and the 'victim' is at a lower level, with her head in the lap of the 'rescuer'.
The triangle is called a 'two up, one down' triangle, reflecting where the power is held.
Have you ever felt like the 'persecutor', getting angry perhaps, shouting, pointing your finger, blaming?
Of course you have.
So have your children at one time or another, haven't they?
But what happened just before they stepped into that role?
Usually we experience 'victim' just before.
Think about it. You've done everything for the family, you feel tired and stressed. It feels like no-one appreciates all you're doing. In that moment, we feel like Cinderella don't we? Our 'ball' may be a cup of tea with a friend, a relaxing bath, some time at the gym, an evening out with friends' but we can't go. We may blame 'covid' or 'the situation' but we're feeling a bit sorry for ourselves.
In that place, it doesn't take much to trigger us into feeling angry. We move into 'persecutor' and shout, slam a door, or whatever we can do in that moment to be seen and heard because that is our basic human need.
The kids or your partner, move into 'victim' - "what did I do?' (see first image) and you feel guilty for losing your temper and move into 'rescuer' to apologise and may give them a hug (second image).
Another common situation is where your child steps into 'victim' saying they can't do their schoolwork, don't have any friends, miss their friends, feel bored and fed up perhaps. As loving parents, we step into 'rescuer' to fix this, coming up with suggestions, making plans, solving the problem. At some level they are thankful but may then become annoyed at your attempts and stomp off to their room, moving into 'persecutor'. We may bring them a cup of tea saying "I was only trying to help" (rescuer). But they may say 'go away" and you then move into 'victim' feeling sorry for yourself, after all you meant well.
Your own family situations will vary of course but the essence is that
- we move around the triangle
- we can occupy any of these roles in any situation
- no-one actually gets their needs met
I hope the diagram below shows this.
This book will be a great reference book for parents of school-age children.
Special Offer on my two new books
Special price for my two new books purchased together and posted to the same address.
You will received signed and dedicated books (tell me name if not same as on order) - 'Understanding children and teens - a practical guide for parents, teachers and coaches' and 'Empower your Kids! A coaching guide for parents'.
Empower your kids! A coaching guide for parents.
Parents have a natural and automatic desire to rescue, protect and shield their children from difficult situations. Parents want to show their love by stepping in and helping wherever they can: with homework, bedtime monsters, the dark, new experiences, making friends…
But by rescuing our children, are we helping them to build their self-esteem? By stepping in and fixing things, we communicate that we don’t think they can do it on their own. We make them think they need us. What if there was a better way?
This book will give parents the skills to guide their children to find their own solutions and to create new possibilities. These tried and tested coaching skills, drawn from the author's vast experience of working with parents and children, will give children choices. It will give them a positive mindset, and a ‘I can’ attitude. If we can show children how to fix things for themselves, then we set them up for a lifetime of independence, and confidence in their own abilities.
Understanding children and teens - a practical guide for parents, teachers and coaches
A signed copy of Judy's new book with shipping included.
Understanding Children and Teens shows the reader how to use Neuro Linguistic Programming, Emotional Freedom Technique, and Art Therapy in order to connect with children and teens to help them conquer their problems. With clear explanations, examples, and easy-to-follow exercises, this book will enable those who care for children to gain valuable insight into their world, and to understand what they are thinking and feeling. It will give children the means to believe in themselves with unconditional love and acceptance, empowering them to achieve all they wish for in life.
This practical guide is aimed at parents, teachers, coaches, and everyone who works with children and teens and is informed by the author's experiences of working with this group over the last 30 years.
Judy Bartkowiak is an NLP trainer and coach as well as an EFT trainer and coach who specialises in working with children and teens. Before becoming a therapist, she worked in children's market research. She has written extensively on NLP. This is her first title for Free Association Books.
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