“Many of us parents take our children’s “emotional temperature” several times a day. We monitor their feelings, asking them to describe those feelings, to express them, to talk about them. We expect our children to have a complex awareness of their own emotions, with the insight and vocabulary to convey that awareness. While our intentions are well-meaning –“Honey, do you think your anger at your sister might also be a little jealousy? Can you tell her how feel inside?” — this emotional monitoring has an unexpected effect. It rushes kids along, pushing them into a premature adolescence…..To dissect and parse that, to push and push, imagining that they are hiding a much more subtle or nuanced feeling or reply, is invasive. It is also usually unproductive, expect perhaps in making a child nervous.” — Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
Just for today, think in your head how your child feels and connect with that through a hug, a smile, or holding your child but instead of filling this space with words just be there to listen.
Just for today, keep your own adult inner life to yourself or with other adults instead of spilling it out on the children.
Just for today, especially if you have children under the age of 12, stop reasoning and going on and on about something. Stop talking, take a breath, and listen to your child. Try other tools: distraction, change the scenery by going outside, use your strong rhythm to hold things, breathe through a tiny child’s temper tantrum. Keep calm and composed. Repeat what needs to happen, help especially the small child physically do what needs to happen with a song, with gentle hands, with a smile. Hold the space. For a bigger child who is bouncing against a boundary, through the tears and struggle, hold the boundary for them so they can grow and learn. You are their model and their teacher.
Just for today, realize that play is the best therapy for feelings for children under the age of 12. Check the play, especially how your child plays with others. Keep your eyes and ears on your children.