She is not feeling well, she has been angry all morning and we tried her favorite sweets…not working.“ (Parent – Maria age 5)
What if I gave you permission to allow your child to express the worst feelings! Yep, to provide your daughter a place to scream, grunt, push and even scowl at you. And, to top it off – you won’t be seen as a bad parent, an indulgent mother, or even a dismissive father?
Yesterday, I walked into a patient’s room and I saw that she was covered with frustration. Together with her parents, I asked permission to join their daughter in listening to her important message.
Her parents leaned in to listen but there were no words. She was absolutely silent. But I pointed out, she was twisting her fingers, scowling her forehead and tightening her legs. I asked her father and mother to join with her and try on these words. Immediately, Maria’s eyes gazed upwards and then without allowing for any control from her parents she gazed downwards and continued her hand movement. I motioned to her parents to lean in, to really listen and feel her upset, her tension. As they did, Maria tightened further in her muscles and continued to move as her parents moved with her. All of our hands twisting in our laps. Then she let out a release of a cry -tears fell down her face and her hands opened. Her parents took hold of each one.
But, again, I asked them to listen rather than lead. They sat awaiting her next words – she sat up straight and appeared as if she had never cried at all.
I narrated for the family – Is it ok to be sad? To let go? A collective agreement came across their faces – “no, it is not easy to let go and we must be strong.” So together, we half smiled, and moved towards strength. I suggested the parents give into their daughters frustration and control – she pushed each of them one at at time away from her (gently), and they returned again by her side. Like a tug of war challenge, she pushed and pulled back and forth only allowing one parent to gain connection at a time. I used humor to acknowledge who she allowed close and who was cast away. I acknowledged the joy of having control, the power of changing her feelings, communicating and having her parents listen. Ultimately, she, Maria, laughed out loud. She grabbed both her parents around their shoulders and they all hugged, laughed and kissed. A tear running down her face with a request for more movement and music. We listened to a song while slowing down and rocking now at a soft pace.
The mood had shifted not by an external treat, not by stopping her feelings and trying to change them but purely by allowing the movements to be heard and her feelings to be expressed.
Will you embrace your child’s next emotions? Every movement allows for communication and connection. Everyday I work with children of all ages and their families to help make meaningful connections, acceptance and increased communication! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (310) 966-0700 to schedule your time.
Please Note: These stories are based on real moments but all names, ages, and identifying information has been changed to ensure confidentiality and safety for all individuals involved. The events are a composite of related scenarios used to illustrate the work; bringing understanding to the benefits of supporting children through a mind/body connection.