Simplicity Monday

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.

Many blessings,

9 thoughts on “Simplicity Monday

  1. Hi Carrie,
    I have seen reference to “holding the space” for a young child in other posts as well. Can you elaborate on what this looks like, please? For example, when my four year old daughter is snatching toys from her 12 month old brother. I tell her that she may not take things that he is safely using and guide the toy back to him. I tell her she may help me with my work (e.g., cooking, sweeping) while she is waiting her turn. She usually snatches the toy right back and then I take it away and hold her on my lap while she rages a bit. I don’t think I’ve got the nuances down on this so some guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    • Wendy,
      I think if you go back and find the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posts those may help. I think the main thing is to hold empathy in your heart for what this child really desperately wants in the moment, but the heart to carry the entirety of the family’s needs, and the need of the safety and dignity of all family members. So, in that sense I think holding the space is more a spiritual mindset than perhaps what you do physically. It also leads back to our own self-control and composure, to put the needs of the child (which is their character development in many terms) above our own irritation or anger.

      Hope that helps,

  2. Carrie,
    I have recently found your blog and I am so deeply thankful for your compassionate and encouraging words. They are a soothing balm and an inspiring guide where so needed.
    Blessings to you,

  3. can you explain “holding the space” more (or direct me to a post where you already have)? I have a three year old is very fidgety and disruptive during bedtime stories and is making it hard for the rest of our family to enjoy this very sacred part of our day.

  4. Thank you, Carrie, for referring me to the posts on Keep the Calm and Carry-on. I have felt a big shift in my energy and that of the household in the last few days.

  5. Hi Carrie
    Thanks for this post. I have been talking too much in lots of situations and am striving to make improvements. I do wonder ho to go about teaching conflict resolution skills without talking about feelings. I have been trying to apply the kind of approach recommended here ( with my very awake 4 yr old and her 12 mo brother


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.